#SeastainableStories is a series by Seastainable to feature amazing ocean conservationists and advocates! We believe that everyone can play a part in contributing to healthier and happier oceans.
For this week’s blog, we are featuring Adzmin Fatta, the Co-founder of Green Semporna in Malaysia. In December 2019, Seastainable supported Green Semporna's Community Environmental Leadership Camp (CELC) which was attended by 42 aspiring young leaders in Malaysia. The programme aims to support sustainable development in the communities living in coastal areas of Sabah, enabling grassroots conservation organizations to grow through capacity building.
Want to know more about Adz and his advocacy? Read more about his journey below!
What sparked your interest in conservation?
Initially, I never dreamed that I would be working in conservation when I was young. I live in a coastal area and grew up in our stilt houses. Pollution in the ocean and a dying marine ecosystem was the environment I grew up in and it seemed normal for me back then. My life changed when I had the chance to join an environmental camp in 2012. In the camp, the organizer took us to snorkel and walk around the beautiful sandy beaches! This experience changed my perception and understanding of our ocean especially my beloved hometown, Semporna.
What do you think is important in pursuing conservation?
Conservation is a tool to keep our natural capital in a sustainable direction. Natural capital is a service that we use in our day to day activities. We live, eat, and breath because of the services that nature has blessed upon us. In a local context, conservation is part of our daily living - the entire community relies on the environment as food, income, culture or more (you name it!). To me, I personally feel conservation is not just a career or exclusive to biologists or researchers. The idea of conservation should be embedded in our daily lifestyles because every single action we take will have an impact on our environment. To put it simply, if we want beautiful nature landscapes and reserves, more fish in our ocean, healthy coral reefs for tourism, better climate, and so on, we need conservation! And as a local who grew up by the coast, conservation is worth fighting for.
What/Who inspired you to start your organization?
As one of the locals of Semporna, it makes me very lucky to be at the center of marine biodiversity in Sabah and even in Malaysia! Unfortunately, we are also the center of adversity (due to challenges such as fish bombing, and lack of waste management infrastructure). Thus, in 2012, we co-founded Green Semporna after we deeply discussed the idea with our close friend and advisor from WWF-Malaysia in Semporna.
Green Semporna is a platform for young people and the local community in Semporna to explore marine conservation programs through volunteerism. Since then, I received growing opportunity and help from people in this field and has deepened my understanding, polished my skill, as well as enhance my capacity to be who I am today (a Thallasophile)! Through our initiative, I am constantly inspired by the people I had the opportunity to meet within the conservation scene.
What/Who inspired you to start your project?
In 2012, I attended an environmental camp, which inspired me to protect our oceans. Without this experience, Green Semporna would not have been born. So since then, Green Semporna has always been running camp and workshops for the local community. I remember how I started a Marine Appreciation Camping Activity MACA in 2013 with a very limited understanding of designing the content etc. And now it grows into CELC which goes beyond focusing on Semporna, but the whole local community in Sabah.
Some of this camp’s activities and motivations to make it happen were from my ocean fam, Anna Oposa who is running SEA Camp in the Phillipines. Seeing how she and her team put a big effort into making it happen really inspired me to do the same for Sabah. (Funfact. Seastainable's founder took part in the SEA Camp and that's how she was inspired to start Seastainable!)
How did you meet the members of your team?
Mimin and Mariam are the two passionate ladies in our CELC core team. They both work with WWF-Malaysia in Semporna and have various experiences with community projects. We build strong teamwork, communication, collaboration, and friendship way before we started CELC in 2018. Together, we have run various camps like MACA and Mangrove4U Camp. This has kept us together and to continuously envision a strong community network in Sabah as our main long-term goal!
Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I am entomophobic and a thallasophile. Also, I love diving!
What is your advice to people who want to pursue a career in conservation, but may not have the ‘conservation’ background?
I don't even have any degree 😂I started from the ground up and now running projects for conservation. I finished my higher secondary school and started working with conservation NGOs. People sometimes ask me if I major in any science degree. They even offer me to pursue a Ph.D.! (I think these are all compliments. 😅)
You can be anyone you like to protect the earth without being a conservationist. We need more diverse people in conservation. We need more journalists who can write more stories about our climate. We need a creative artist to produce creative materials for environmental campaigns. We need more legal advisors bring legal instruments to the table and get it implemented.
Conservation is more about knowing your passion, networking with people, and learning from those who have experience in this field. You don't have to have a degree to care about the environment. You don't have to be a marine biologist to talk about sea turtles and climate change. You don't have to be a researcher to talk about overfishing and coral destruction. You just have to be a human who has the moral of humanity to start looking after our nature.
A piece of advice you would like to give to our readers about the future of our planet?
You may feel that technologies and other advancements could save us! But let me remind you that we only have one livable planet which we call EARTH. And that planet where we are now is dying. We don't have another planet so we better hurry to help in rejuvenating and protecting the only earth we have now.
What are the next steps that you want to take to save our ocean?
Saving our ocean has so many ways! For me, I would continue to empower the local community in Sabah and build that strong network among us to amplify our efforts/actions eventually to be a louder voice that could advise our government.
Like to read about our other inspiring youth? Check it out below!